FROM STAFF REPORTS
PALESTINE – Van held Palestine to 20 total yards and one first down in the second half. The Vandals also out-scored the Wildcats 14-0 after halftime to pull away for a 38-21 win in a battle of undefeated teams at Wildcat Stadium. Palestine's offense went ice cold in the fourth quarter, getting knocked back for minus-10 yards.
A special-teams play helped Van (4-0) get a comfortable lead. Michael Huffer blocked an Allan Vasquez punt and three plays later Garrett Moseley threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Connor Houston to give Van a 31-21 lead with 5:31 left in the first quarter. Moseley had a big game, accounting for 409 total yards and three touchdowns.
Van finished off Palestine (3-1) with a 3-yard touchdown run by Reid Thomas with 6:16 left. The Vandals, which averaged 51.0 points heading into Friday, had unmatched balance in its offense with 239 yards rushing and 239 yards passing. The Vandals rushed for 89 yards in the fourth quarter while the Wildcats had just 41 yards rushing on 21 carries for the game.
Palestine's rough second half on offense was a contrast to the first half when the offenses of both teams were cooking.
A high-scoring first half in which Van had a 24-21 halftime edge was started by a big play by each team. Palestine opened the scoring with Irric Deyon, who was named the 2016 homecoming king at halftime, taking a screen pass from Claude Rodgers 72 yards for a touchdown with 8:26 left in the first quarter. On the next play Van's Cooper Bledsoe returned the kickoff up the middle of the field 85 yards for a touchdown.
The kickoff return shifted the momentum Van's way. The Vandals marched 94 yards on their next drive, capped by a 13-yard touchdown pass from Moseley to Tre Lovett.
A botched handoff recovered by Van's Tristan Gentry at the Palestine 26-yard line set up a 26-yard touchdown run by Moseley to give Van a 21-7 lead with 8:04 left in the second quarter. At least three Palestine players had Moseley trapped for a sack, but the quarterback escaped their grasp. Moseley had 270 total yards on offense in the first half.
Palestine countered with a 42-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to T.J. Dever with 6:18 left in the second quarter. It was the lone reception of the game for Dever, who has scored five touchdowns on six receptions this season.
The Wildcats got another big play to tie the game with 4:29 left in the second on a 79-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Jhamonte Milton. Rodgers passed 212 of his 219 yards in the first half.
Van took the halftime lead on a 25-yard field goal by Alex Vasquez with nine seconds remaining in the half. This capped a 67-yard drive that was extended when the Wildcats were called for taunting after an incomplete pass on a third-down play at the Van 35-yard line.